Spending your vacation on the best beach in Costa Rica sounds like a lot of fun. Spending days sunbathing and playing with your kids on the beach, and evenings in amazing local restaurants is a perfect vacation. Choose between the Caribbean and Pacific coast for your holiday accommodation.
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1. Manuel Antonio Beach is the best beach in Costa Rica for families
If the best beach in Costa Rica is your choice for a dream vacation you don’t have to look further than Manuel Antonio Beach. These beaches on both sides of the small peninsula, with beautiful white sand and greenery in the back, are a nature’s gem in this part of Costa Rica.
From surfers to eco-tourists, and families seeking peaceful holiday spots this beach is one of the most popular places in Costa Rica. festivals and events are often happening on the beach. All of the beaches in the area offer selected activities like swimming, surfing, and scuba diving.
Some of the best places to stay in Costa Rica on the beach are near Manuel Antonio National Park. That way you would be able to enjoy the park every day of your vacation and still be in the hotel by dinner time. Park is open every day except for Tuesday, and the beaches and hiking trails are open from 7 am to 4 pm. Only Espadilla Norte is open from 5 am to 6 pm.
Single-use plastic is forbidden in the park, as well as bringing food. You can only bring water and soft drinks with you. However, there are a few kiosks with snacks and drinks in the park.
Some tours you can book while visiting the park are dolphin catamaran, zipline, or educational park-guided tours. If you are a family of adventurers kayaking and rafting might be a good fit for you.
2. Tamarindo Beach
Tamarindo is considered the best beach in Costa Rica for nature lovers. It used to be just a fishing village with untouched natural beauty, and now it is one of the most visited places in the Guanacaste province. Except for a gorgeous beach, the town is offering different price range accommodation, excellent restaurants and bars, and a small art scene with numerous art galleries and boutiques on the main street.
Located on the Pacific coast, Tamarindo has great waves for beginners in surfing. You can also swim, snorkel, make sandcastles with your kids, or enjoy other water sports. In the evening this is the place with parties on the beach, and beach bars open until morning hours.
If you are staying in Tamarindo don’t miss out on the best natural attraction only half an hour away, Las Baulas National Marine Park. Covering about 1,100 acres of beach and coast and over 54,400 maritime acres, this park is home to the leatherback sea turtles. They come here every year to lay eggs, so if you are lucky you can witness baby turtles speeding to get to the waves.
3. Conchal Beach
A true paradise for your feet, and your soul. The white sand on this gorgeous long beach is surrounded by the greenery on one side and the ocean on the other. It looks like a postcard when you first approach it.
This beach is perfect for families and couples looking for a beautiful place to spend a day at. Some of the activities offered here are scuba diving, snorkeling, sportfishing, surfing, paddleboarding, and more. If you don’t want to spend a day in the water you can opt for golfing, sailing, or wildlife tours.
The name for this beautiful beach comes from the Spanish word “concha” which means shell. Millions of seashells are washed out on the beach every year and it looks like the sand is sparkling, creating a beautiful atmosphere.
Nearby attractions are towns and beaches in the Flamingo and Tamarindo areas. You can also visit Rincon De La Vieja National Park, Palo Verde National Park, Miravalles Volcano, and Barra Honda National Park, among other attractions.
4. Dominical Beach
As one of the most popular beaches for surfers, Dominical beach has large waves year-round. It is not very good for swimming because of the strong waves but there are plenty of activities you can enjoy here.
Sign up for a snorkeling or diving tour of a nearby Cano island, where you can see an impressive sea world, including sea turtles, dolphins, stingrays, barracudas, sharks, and occasionally whales.
The beach is 4 km long and along the beach, there are plenty of hotels, restaurants, and villas. The town is very safe, and you can freely walk anywhere, ideal for families. You can also walk on the beach at any time, and enjoy epic sunsets or sunrises.
This beach is also attracting yogis from around the world, with studios like Danyasa Yoga Retreat, which includes accommodation, yoga classes, meals, and everything else you might need for a week of relaxation.
Staying in this area is also convenient if you want to visit some wonderful nature on your holiday. Close by are parks like Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, Manuel Antonio National Park, and Nauyaca Waterfalls.
5. Costa Ballena
Costa Ballena is the area located between Dominical and Ojochal. Several gorgeous beaches are connected making this stunning picturesque region perfect for a beach vacation. Your family can go snorkeling, kayaking, diving, surfing, and scuba diving. Other activities available in the area are sport fishing, canopy tours, and tree-climbing adventures.
Incredible wildlife and natural beauty often attract eco-adventurers. This is also the best place for whale watching in Costa Rica. other animals you can spot here are dolphins, and various birds. For nature lovers, a nearby Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge is a gem that shouldn’t be missed. Nearby are also Nauyaca Waterfalls, only about 10km from Costa Ballena.
If snorkeling and diving are your favorite sports this is a place for you. A beautiful coral reef where you can see rich marine life and endangered sea turtles are easily accessible and several tour operators are offering their tours here.
The accommodation on the beach varies, from cheap studios and lodges to luxury villas and international hotels. Costa Rica is generally affordable and can be traveled on a budget, but that doesn’t mean that there are no incredible luxurious places you can visit.
6. Montezuma Beach
A beautiful place where a pristine beach and a jungle meet, Montezuma is a gem far from crowded touristy destinations. Most of the visitors here are either young couples or families with kids. You can walk around the small town, talk to locals and travelers, eat amazing food, and see wildlife wandering into the town every day.
The beach is great for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, paddling, and other water sports. You will often see surfers camping under the palm trees, waiting for the best waves. Spend the entire day on the beach, hide in the shade of the rainforest when it gets too hot, and buy some refreshing drinks and snacks from beach bars.
A perfect day trip from Montezuma is a visit to Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. You can hike here, see monkeys, birds, butterflies, and other animal species. Another stunning natural attraction nearby is Montezuma waterfalls, where you can hike, swim, and enjoy nature for a full day.
7. Santa Teresa & Malpais Beach
Malpais beach is an excellent swimming and surfing location, nestled in the south of the Nicoya Peninsula, on the Pacific coast. It leans onto incredible the Cabo Blanco National Park, where you can go hiking, bird watching, and swimming.
Santa Teresa is a small town where you can rent accommodation and visit restaurants. It is most popular among surfers and yogis, and it is considered one of the best surfing destinations in the world. The town is close to Montezuma waterfall, which is another day trip opportunity for travelers.
The beach consists of small coves, huge rocks, and rainforest feet away from the ocean. Because of the waves, swimming can be difficult, especially for little kids, so nearby Playa Suecos or Secret Beach is a better option if you want to snorkel, swim, or make sandcastle with your kiddos.
Malpais is the only port in this part of Costa Rica. many fishermen are parking here, and they are also offering boat tours, which you can take to watch the sunset from the sea, to look for dolphins and whales, and enjoy the area from a different perspective.
8. Samara Beach
If you are looking for a hidden gem and unique off-the-beaten-path location in Costa Rica, Samara beach is for you. You won’t find huge hotels and resorts, famous fast-food chains, or busy tourist streets. This is more like a wilderness with a few houses attached to a small town, a laid-back community of travelers who were looking for a relaxing and quiet vacation away from the city crowd.
If you wander into the forest you will see monkeys, iguanas, and many kinds of birds. The unspoiled natural beauty is what attracts many visitors to this area. You can take a guided tour of the forest or go hike on your own.
This is probably one of the best places for swimming and snorkeling in Costa Rica. the beach is located in the cove, and waves are not as huge as in other places on the Pacific coast, and the coral reef is just off the shore, and easy to reach. You will see amazing marine life, sea turtles, and if you are lucky enough a dolphin will swim by.
9. Nosara Beach
Nosara Beach is a haven for surfers and yogis, or anyone looking for a calm and relaxing place to spend their vacation. Instead of big hotels and international resorts here, you can stay in retreats, lodges, and small houses close to the beach.
Although this beach attracts surfers, it is one of the places where first-time surfers can practice and take classes too. Waves are not as huge and there is plenty to do on the beach aside from surfing, like paddling, sea kayaking, diving, etc.
Those who love nature can explore the jungle in the Nosara Biological Reserve. You can see different kinds of birds, monkeys, iguanas, and other animals. It is one of the remaining well-preserved rainforests in the world.
You can finish your day by checking out local restaurants where you can find Costa Rican specialty meals or popular fast food options. Most of the restaurants are kid-friendly and you will find something good for your little ones on the menu too.
10. Flamingo Beach
The name of this beach comes from the color of the sand that in certain light pears pink. It is actually white sand, and this 1,5km long beach is a top location for beach lovers. Turquoise water in this cove is calling you to jump in and swim. You can stay in a luxury condo, have an amazing holiday with family, eat in world-class restaurants, and do everything with a spectacular view.
The town is very touristy and you will not find authentic Costa Rican culture here. To visit more locally-oriented places, you can go to Potrero post, or Brasilito, local towns nearby. There you will find handmade souvenirs, you can try local food, and meet locals.
Some of the activities you can enjoy here are catamaran cruises, sportfishing, sea kayaking, diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, and more. There is something for everyone here and a lot of family-friendly activities.
Choosing the best beach in Costa Rica for your vacation is not a simple task. You have to consider what there is to do and see for everyone in your family. Opting for a resort instead of a private villa is a good idea if you have small kids, so they can enjoy kids’ clubs and fun games.